Evacuation of SA citizens from Wuhan is understandable - Chinese embassy

China's ambassador to South Africa Lin Songtian.
China's ambassador to South Africa Lin Songtian.
Jenna Etheridge, News24

The Chinese Embassy in South Africa says the decision to evacuate citizens from Wuhan City, China, is understandable.

"The decision made by the SA government is understandable to address the anxiety and concern of its citizens and families resulting from over one month of quarantine in a city far away from their motherland," the embassy said in a statement on Friday.

This comes after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Thursday night that government was planning to repatriate South African citizens from the Chinese city where the deadly coronavirus originated.

READ | South Africans in Wuhan to be repatriated amid deadly coronavirus outbreak

Out of the 199 South Africans in Wuhan, according to the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco), 132 - at this stage -  have expressed a desire to be repatriated.

The embassy expressed its gratitude to all citizens who were about to be repatriated amid the outbreak for their "understanding, cooperation, support, sacrifice and contributions to our effective control and prevention efforts against the epidemic in China".

"Their friendship, brotherhood and solidarity at this difficult time has been tested and will always be cherished by the Chinese government and people," the statement further reads.

The embassy in Pretoria added that the spread of the Covid-19 epidemic in China had been effectively brought "under control".

"The number of both the new confirmed and suspected cases has been declining continuously and substantially, the cure rate has been increasing and rising significantly, and the death toll remains low," the statement said.

READ | Two South Africans test positive for coronavirus on Japanese cruise ship

The embassy further reported that, out of the million foreign nationals residing in China, 29 were infected in China. 

"Only two of them died of the novel coronavirus, nine of them in hospital for medical treatment, and the rest have been cured and discharged from hospital," according to the embassy.

In addition, none of the more than 3 000 South African students, or any other SA citizens in China, had been infected at this stage and there were no confirmed cases of infection in South Africa as yet. 

"While ready to offer all necessary assistance to the evacuation of the South African citizens from Wuhan, we sincerely hope and believe that the South African government will take effective measures to prevent the virus from entering and spreading in South Africa and Africa.

"We will continue to maintain close collaboration with SA government to stop the coronavirus from entering SA," the statement concludes.

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